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Author-columnist Stanford named Outstanding African-American of Year in Aurora

AurorAlderman ScheketHart-Burns congratulated author Beacon-News columnist Anthony Stanford for being named 2014 Outstanding African-American Year AurorAfrican-American Heritage Advisory Board dinner

Aurora Alderman Scheketa Hart-Burns congratulated author and Beacon-News columnist Anthony Stanford for being named 2014 Outstanding African-American of the Year at the Aurora African-American Heritage Advisory Board dinner Friday, Feb. 21, 2014 at Pipers Banquets in Aurora. | Linda Girardi ~ For Sun-Times Media

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Updated: March 25, 2014 6:23AM

Author and Beacon-News columnist Anthony Stanford is a fearless writer, but even he admits to being surprised by a distinction brought to him.

On Friday, Stanford was formally named 2014 Outstanding African-American of the Year at the Aurora African-American Heritage Advisory Board dinner held at Pipers Banquet in Aurora.

“I have been known to rock the boat on a few occasions,” he told the packed hall.

But rather than speak of issues facing a nation, Stanford chose to give the accolades on the growth and strength of Aurora that has chosen to reach out to individuals whose views are contrary and ultimately accepted them as part of the fabric of the community.

“When you find yourself as a community acknowledging individuals who have not always said what you want to hear or endorse issues you are not readily acceptable to, it means you are doing something special,” he said.

“You are taking Aurora from being known as the second-largest city in Illinois, to being a No. 1 city that is inclusive and appreciates those who speak out,” Stanford said.

Rosa Molina shared in the introduction of her friend, that initially she could not find simple words to describe greatness, but realized it is exactly the small that describes the big.

“A star tonight illuminates our city of Aurora through his writings about the many ailments of social inequality,” Molina said.

Stanford has become known in the circle of columnists, authors as a leader who uses his effective writing abilities on behalf of others, she said.

“I am not a stranger to the issues of social inequality, but through my faith in God, values and the rise of legendary heroes, I chose to embrace humanity as one race and to emphasize on uniqueness rather than differences,” she said.

Molina described Stanford as a passionate servant, one who inspires others to be bold, as well as an advocate who respects the perspectives of others.

Stanford said he does not consider himself a champion, but rather blessed as a writer to have a platform. He said many individuals have contributed to making Aurora “the place we can all be proud of” to live in and work.

Stanford, who grew up on the south side of Chicago in a family of seven children, said writing was an outlet he discovered early in his youth. He began to tell stories to his siblings and friends and saw the effect it had on them. Today, he strives on “telling the back story.”

Among his many published works are cutting-edge perspectives on politics, race and religion. His essays have received critical acclaims.

Stanford’s controversial and groundbreaking book “Homophobia in the Black Church: How Faith, Politics and Fear Divide the Black Community” was released in 2013. Stanford’s second book, titled “Revaluing the Federal Workforce: Defending America’s Civil Servants,” with a foreword penned by Aurora Mayor Tom Weisner, will be released later this year.

Stanford moved to Aurora two decades ago and now calls it his home. “This award is not a reflection on me or the issues that I find compelling to write about; it is more a recognition of how we have come to respect those who see the community as one,” Stanford said.

Three Aurora leaders were honored with the African-American Heritage Advisory Board’s Nia award for their purposeful lives as community leaders and public servants: Albert George Demming, Henry Champen and Aurora Police Officer Shireen Long. Henry Cowherd scholarships were awarded to five high school students for academic achievement: Bryce Smith, Elizabeth Skaggs, Sarah Cole, Sariah Compton and Nafisat Adekola.

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